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US Envoy to Zimbabwe Says Trust Restored - But Verification Needed

As Zimbabwe moves to repair ties with the international community, the U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe said Wednesday that Harare's national unity government has made progress - but not enough yet for Washington to fund Harare's US$10 billion reconstruction program.

U.S. Ambassador James McGee told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that trust has been re-established between Harare and Washington, but U.S. authorities want to be sure that development funds are not diverted as has happened in the past.

McGee said he was "cautiously optimistic" about the prospects of the unity government, but said that although there has been considerable progress on the fiscal side under Finance Minister Tendai Biti, there has been less progress on rights and governance.

But he said it was encouraging that it was now possible to pursue a dialogue with the Harare government, whereas U.S. contacts with the previous government had become rare.

Ministers of the unity government headed by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai with President Robert Mugabe as head of state met last weekend in the resort town of Victoria Falls and set a 100-day agenda to revive the economy and start rebuilding critical infrastructure.

It also said it wanted to re-engage the international community, and this week established an inter-ministerial committee to pursue contacts with Western governments, targeting the European Community as the most promising major source of funding at present.

Britain, however, has set much the same benchmarks as the United States - that it wants to see clear progress on governance, human rights, the rule of law and other criteria before it will consider helping to fund the massive project of reconstructing Zimbabwe.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...